Health Tips > Fitness Files > Foundations of A Well-rounded Strength Training Routine

Foundations of A Well-rounded Strength Training Routine

View All Section Pages

Workout equipment

Avoid imbalances and improve strength, flexibility and overall movement with a well-rounded exercise routine. A complete routine should consist of aerobic exercise, strength training and proper stretching. Often times, individuals think cardio alone is a good exercise routine; however, strength training is a critical component of fitness—for cardio performance as well as daily movements and injury prevention. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers Colette Cole, MS, and Sam Laceky share four foundational movements which comprise a well-rounded strength training routine and how they can be used and modified for a variety of individuals. 

Four Foundational Movements
A well-rounded strength training exercise routine consists of four main movements:

  • Upper body
  • Lower body
  • Multiplanar (moving the body through all three planes of motion: forward and backward, left to right and up and down)
  • Trunk or core exercise 

“Ideally, someone would be performing a combination of these four movements,” says Cole. “Getting on the elliptical or doing cardio is certainly good for you but adding in strength training with these four movements creates a well-rounded routine.” While these four movements are the foundation, the actual exercises performed can be different based on the individual’s goals, limitations and/or fitness level. For example, an overhead press can be done using dumbbells but someone with a shoulder issue could modify the movement by doing front raises to decrease the amount of stress on the shoulder. A certified personal trainer has the expertise to recommend modifications to your workout and exercises based on your specific limitations.

Many movements can be performed using bands or a cable machine. This equipment allows the exercises to be modified for your specific needs. Weight, reps and sets vary from person to person depending on personal goals, fitness level and limitations. Laceky shares four exercises using a band attached to a secure point, one from each main movement, which can be incorporated in a well-rounded exercise routine.

Aim to perform 10-15 reps of exercises on each side of the body for three sets. 

  • Upper body, single arm press. Hold the loose end of the band at shoulder height. Facing away from the anchor point, step away from the band with your feet staggered to create tension. Perform a chest press with one arm, stopping just before your elbow locks out, with your hand directly in front of your shoulder. Perform on each arm.
  • Lower body, single-leg squat to row. Face the anchor point, holding the band in one hand. Stagger your feet for stabilization and perform a single-leg squat. When returning to the upright position, drive your elbow back into a row. Perform on each leg.
  • Multiplanar, trunk isometric reverse steps. With your body perpendicular to the anchor point, hold the band in both hands, arms extended outward. Keeping your core tight, take a step backward with one foot, keeping the other in place. Switch legs and repeat on both sides. 
  • Trunk rotation. With your body perpendicular to the anchor point, hold the band in both hands, arms extend outward. Twist away from the secured anchor point, keeping your core tight. Repeat on each side.

A cable machine can be used as an alternative to a band and allows you to add weight to it. Choose a weight that makes the last few reps challenging but still doable. 

For a video demonstration of these exercises, watch this Exercise Move.

Having a well-rounded exercise routine can promote longevity, reduce your risk for injury and help improve imbalances and asymmetries. “Exercise is great for prevention but it can also help you work through current injuries,” says Cole. “It helps you stay functional longer by improving your quality of life. You have to take care of yourself and your body before it’s too late.”

Having a well-rounded exercise routine can also reduce your risk for disease such as osteoporosis. Exercising regularly can reduce the rate of bone loss by strengthening the muscles and improving your balance to reduce the risk of falls.

By incorporating aerobic exercise, the four foundational strength-training movements and proper stretching into your routine, imbalances can be avoided. If you only perform exercises for your arms, you may have weaker legs and struggle with daily tasks such as walking and getting up from a chair. The same could occur if you only work your legs and not arms. If you perform only the four foundational strength-training movements and no aerobic exercise, you may increase your risk for health issues down the road such as heart disease.   

Incorporating A Well-Rounded Exercise Routine in Your Schedule 
Creating a well-rounded exercise routine can be daunting. A certified professional fitness trainer can create a routine specific to your personal goals and limitations. They can show you a variety of exercises targeting the four main movements as well as correct form to help prevent injury.

Laceky and Cole also recommend taking group exercise classes to round out your exercise routine and provide variety. Many fitness facilities also offer small group training—often times designed to address specific health conditions, weight loss and exercise needs. For example, Cooper Fitness Center offers the following small group fitness programs.

  • Female Focus, designed by women for women, has two well-rounded programs to choose from—Weight Loss and Disease Management. Through in-studio and virtual small group training sessions, nutrition talks and fitness assessments, Female Focus incorporates a little bit of everything.
  • Small Group Training (SGT) builds community while offering personal attention and variety to your exercise routine. With three types of training, including high intensity, strength and core and balance, participating in SGT classes ensure you are working all muscle groups.
  • Cooper® Tracks is an individualized exercise and education program to help individuals manage chronic disease and strengthen their immune system. The eight-week program incorporates small group exercise sessions, comprehensive health education and social support. The tracks offered at Cooper Fitness Center include Arthritis, Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Immunity & Reconditioning.

Before going to classes, consider talking with a professional fitness trainer about your goals, fitness level and limitations. Not every exercise routine or class will meet the needs of everyone.

A well-rounded exercise routine can benefit anyone who puts it into practice. Reducing the risk of injury, promoting longevity and improving imbalances are just a few of the benefits associated with incorporating strength-training movements into your routine. While you can perform a well-rounded exercise routine at home without equipment, a facility such as Cooper Fitness Center allows for more variety, programs, selection and proper equipment.

For more information about professional fitness training at Cooper Fitness Center, visit or call 972.233.4832.